photo caption: Daybreak photos on Boston Commons, January 13, 2023, a few hours before the Embrace unveiling ceremony- and the rain.
Hank Willis Thomas Monument to the Kings
The memorial by Hank Willis Thomas is installed just inside the Boston Common Parkman Plaza entrance (across from 151 Tremont St.). Today’s event precedes the public access to the site. Note: The area will be fenced off for a few more weeks before public access is cleared.
In addition to photo documentation of how the Embrace looks today as its readied for the unveiling event, there are photos of the art featured on the temporary fence wrap; the surroundings alongside the new installation and how the Embrace is set into the Boston Commons to give an idea of scale; and photos of the Robert Kraus Boston Massacre / Crispus Attucks Memorial (dedicated 1888), the Augustus St.-Gaudens Robert Gould Shaw | 54th Regiment Memorial (1897), and the John Paramino Signing of the Declaration of Independence tribute tablet (1925) for context and to illustrate their proximity. With the addition of the Embrace (2022) commission, three centuries of striving for equality– now including a tribute to a woman* rather than an allegory for the spirit of Freedom– are located on the Boston Commons within sight of the State House.
*Cyrus Dallin’s Ann Hutchinson and Sylvia Shaw Judson‘s Mary Dyer statues are on the State House grounds.
2023 January 13- morning of Embrace unveiling
Embrace is by American artist Hank Willis Thomas, with Mass Design Group architects. It’s 22 feet high and was fabricated in the Walla Walla Foundry. Thomas was inspired by a photograph of the spouses hugging when MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. When it’s open, people can walk through the heart of the sculpture. I’ll write more about it later. Hank Willis Thomas is now represented by Pace Gallery, NY.
American History – For Freedoms
The Embrace will fall on the Freedom Trail and Black Heritage trail. It’s incredibly moving to visit these liberty milestones sited in such close proximity.
Jan 23, 2023 photos emphasize site lines in relation to the new Embrace commission.
1888 Boston Massacre – Crispus Attucks obelisk
Boston Massacre – Crispus Attucks bronze by Robert Kraus. The 25 feet high obelisk marks the day of the Boston Massacre and includes a tribute to its victims.
Crispus Attucks, a freed black man, whaler, and sailor, was the first revolutionary killed in the battle for liberty.
The sculpture was inspired by Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People commemorating France’s battle to overthrow the King in 1830 (decades following the French Revolution). France’s National Assembly disclosed the Declaration to the Rights of Man and Citizen in 1789. Olympe de Gouges pamplet, Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne (the Declaration of the Rights of Women and the (Female) Citizens) came soon thereafter.
Boston Commons: Boston Massacre | Crispus Attucks Memorial on left; Embrace King tribute between the trees, past the temporary fencing; State House dome on right. Rainy day scenes are 2023. Blue skies were March 2018. All photos: C. Ryan
1925 DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE TABLET
Sculptor John Paramino, after (John) Trumbull’s monumental painting completed in 1818 and installed in the Capitol, The Signing of the Declaration of Independence (Aug 1776), tablet set into granite with eagle carving and produced at the Gorham foundry, Providence, RI.
Closer to home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the bronze doors on the A. Piatt Andrew bridge are by Paramino.
1897 54th Regiment Robert Gould Shaw memorial
Augustus Saint-Gaudens took nearly fourteen years to finish. The memorial was unveiled May 31, 1897. Charles McKim designed the site. The names are carved at the back The paths slope down in the direction of the new statue.
People on their phones that morning whether standing, seated or walking.
June 2022- BEFORE installation
Rainy day scenes, today, Jan 13, 2023. Before scenes depicting site preparation and leafy trees dated June 2022. photos: C. Ryan
About the Embrace memorial Fence Wrap Artists
featuring Rixy Fernandez, Yotron the Don, Malakhai Pearson, Harry Scales, Zahirah Nur Truth, and Ngoc-Tran Vu
1960 – Religion, Learning, Industry
Wayfinding: Commissioned for a 1958 build out for Parkman Plaza designed by Shurcliff and Merrill, this tribute celebrates Boston’s industriousness, scholarship and spiritual history. Sculptors Arcangelo Cascieri & Adio di Biccari completed the series before a 1960 installation. The unveiling dedication was in 1961. This is the closest park entrance to see the Embrace.
blue sky photo: C. Ryan, March 2018 – Religion, Industry, Knowledge Boston Tribute 1961